Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (1996)
Author: Frances Mayes
Genre: Nonfiction (Travel Narrative)
After visiting Italy for many a summer vacation, Frances Mayes and her husband Ed decide to buy a home in Tuscany. Under the Tuscan Sun is a chronicle of their search for a home, the renovation of the home and their many adventures while remodeling the home. These adventures include their experiences with the locals, with the food of Italy, traveling to see the countryside and many other experiences that seem to be just day to day living. There are disappointments and there are small joys that renew the author and help her to discover just what it is about Italy that makes her want to renew her life and live each day to the fullest.
Geographical Setting: Italy
Time Period: Present day
Series: There are other books by the author that are about Italy
This book has many wonderful, mouth watering recipies that originate in Italy. The author describes the food and the local color in deep lyrical almost poetic detail that draws the reader in and makes them wish to go to Italy. Frances Mayes is adventurous and travels and explores the countryside, creating a wonderful travel narrative that any armchair traveler would love to read.
Read-alikes: The City of Fallen Angelsby John Berendt should appeal to the reader because it is set in Italy, it is an exploration of the people of the city of Venice. Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table by Linda Ellerbee is a travel narrative that focuses on the food that the author encounters in the different countries she visits. D.H. Lawrence and Italy: Twilight in Italy; Sea and Sardinia; Etruscan Places by D.H. Lawrence is an older travel narrative that explores Italy during the 1930's, this book should give the reader an interesting perspective on the Italy that D.H. Lawerence knew. A Traveler in Italy by H.V. Morton is about a travel guide that conducts tours in the Tuscan area that Frances Mayes writes about in her book. The difference is that this book is from the perspective of a native Italian conducting tours for Americans and commenting on their behavior. Where as Frances Mayes is an American commenting on Italian behaviors. A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler by Frances Mayes is written in her usual style of poetic detail that draws the reader in. This particular book tells of the author's travels in the Mediterranean and other countries.
Red Flags: The book is a little slow in pace
A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller (2006)
Author: Frances Mayes
Genre: Non-Fiction (Journeys and Places)
A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller is a travel narrative that explores parts of southern Spain, Portugal, Sicily, southern Italy, Morocco, Greece, Crete, Scotland and Turkey over the course of a year. Author Frances Mayes is known for her novel Under the Tuscan Sun and fans of her lyrical writing style will find that it continues in A Year in the World. Frances Mayes and her husband have quit their jobs as university professors and decided to travel the world and explore the places that they have always wanted to see. They spend a month in each location, staying at small inns and renting houses in the country. Their share the passion for food and Frances Mayes spends much of the narrative describing the dishes that they explore in each new locale. Both she and her husband take notes as they travel, to remember recipes, as well as locations and people they meet.
Geographical Setting: southern Spain, Portugal, Sicily, southern Italy, Morocco, Greece, Crete, Scotland, Turkey
Time Period: Contemporary (2006)
This is a great book for readers that are interested in good food and off the beaten track traveling. Frances Mayes and her husband explore small towns and villages across Europe, Africa and Asia in search of new food and great wine and the perfect cup of coffee with a leisurely pace. Her descriptions of the food and the people add some heft to the descriptions of the actual locations and set the upbeat though relaxed tone. Her beautiful writing style and romantic sensibility create a well rounded story. The biggest appeal characteristic are the beautiful landscapes that Mayes, a very descriptive writer lays out for the reader. People who want to read about perfect vacations, and luxurious trips will like this book. The book is a slow read because of its descriptive nature, and is very literary. At the same time, the tone has a dreamy feel to it. Mayes writes as if she is sitting on a balcony somewhere drinking wine and enjoying a sunset. She makes her readers want to go wherever she is.
Read-alikes: There are a lot of great travel journals out there so I tried to pick a diverse group. Readers who love Mayes' literary style and dreamy tone will want to be sure to check out her bestsellerUnder the Tuscan Sun the story of her real-life impulsive move to Tuscany. By the Seat of my Pants: Humorous Tales of travel and Misadventureis a collection of funny travel stories from different authors edited by Don George. My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's been Everywhere is a travel journal by Susan Orlean that captures Mayes' free-spirit but is a little more exciting and adventurous. For readers that want more scrumptious descriptions of food and travel read Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table by Linda Ellerbee. Retired journalist Linda Ellerbee writes of her travels around the world and the food that she encounters in these places. For readers that appreciate the aspects of travel that are helpful in finding ones sense of self Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert will be a satisfying read. This story follows Gilbert through her recovery from a divorce as she travels in these three countries over the course of a year. Almost French by Sarah Turnbull has a bit of the same melancholy feel that some of A Year in the World includes toward the reception in certain locations and the difficulty of navigating local customs. A tale of more local travel would be Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich. The author travels to the Lake of the Woods Ontario to visit the spiritual homeland of the Ojibwe people. She is on a personal quest with her new baby and partner. I'll Know it When I See it: A Daughter's Search for "Home" in Ireland by Alice Carey is a read-alike for A Year in the World because of the circumstances of the authors life that make travel and purchasing of a house in Ireland a necessity. Like Frances Mayes, author Alice Carey returns to Ireland, the native land of her mother, to find some answers to her own life. How to Travel Practically Anywhere is not a travel journal, its a great guide for those who read any of these great journals and want to get started on their own trip. It was written by Susan Stellin, who has had a lot of experience as a Travel editor for the New York Times.
Red Flags: None